How much will it cost for my personal injury lawyer in New York City to handle my case?

In the state of New York, the percentage of the amount obtained that constitutes the attorney’s fee in personal injury cases is nearly always one-third (1/3) of the total.  

We will go over both of these methods of calculating the 1/3 contingency fee, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that the personal injury attorney’s fee will be 1/3 (33.33%) regardless of which option you choose. This is because a recent change in New York personal injury law has produced two distinct alternatives for how the 1/3 contingency fee is calculated.  This is something that won’t ever change.

*The only time that the one-third charge does not apply is in cases involving medical negligence, which involves a sliding scale that is not discussed here.

Personal Injury Lawyers in New York Represent Clients on a Contingency Fee Basis.

In New York, lawyers that specialize in personal injury cases typically take cases on a contingency basis. This implies that your personal injury lawyer will not receive payment for his or her services until after the case has been settled and there has been a successful financial recovery. This is true regardless of the type of event that occurred, be it a slip and fall in the Bronx or an automobile accident in Brooklyn. 

To put it another way, in order for an injury lawyer to really get paid, it is necessary for you to come out of the case with some sort of financial gain, either by a settlement or a verdict.

Option 1 of the Payment Schedule: A Percentage of the Net Recovery

In the first scenario, the legal fees are deducted from the total amount that will be paid out in the personal injury settlement. This means that the amount that will be received will be reduced.  The remaining amount is then reduced by one-third to account for the contingency charge.  This choice can alternatively be referred to as one-third of the total amount recovered or one-third of the profit made from the case.

If the lawsuit is unsuccessful, the attorney will have the right to charge the client for the fees, which are typically paid out of pocket by the attorney. However, in this scenario, the client will retain some risk because the attorney will have the right to do so.  This indicates that the attorney has the right to issue a bill for any money that was spent in order to bring the case ahead, and this right exists even in the event that the lawsuit is unsuccessful.

This “risk” is not a particularly substantial one in reality for two reasons: (1) the vast majority of cases that are accepted are settled, and (2) the majority of businesses would never send a fee to a customer after they had been unsuccessful in their case.  It would be quite insensitive to do that to someone when they are already struggling, despite the fact that the attorney has the legal right to do so if they choose this choice.

The customer will receive some savings at the conclusion of the lawsuit as compensation for the risk they are incurring.  The charge is computed after the expenses have been subtracted from the total, thus in this circumstance, the accident attorney is responsible for contributing to the payment of the expenses.  It translates to a savings of one-third of the expenses, which means that if the expenses for your case were $1,500.00, you would gain an additional $500.00 at the conclusion if you choose Option 1.

Option 2 of the Payment Schedule: A Percentage of the Total Recovery

The second choice brings a new element into the mix, which modifies the equation.  The 1/3 charge is deducted not from the amount that was actually recovered but from the entire amount.  This indicates that the personal injury attorney’s fee is one-third of the total sum that was settled.  And the remaining portion is the client’s responsibility to pay back the attorney for the fees incurred throughout the litigation.

If you choose this course of action, there is no possibility that the customer will be billed for the fees associated with the case in the event that you are unsuccessful.

In exchange for your victory, the customer will receive a marginally smaller amount of money if you are successful.  In this scenario, the fees are paid out of your share of the revenues from the settlement, so the attorney does not bear any responsibility for the total cost.  Therefore, you will not receive the one-third contribution to your expenses that you would have received if you had chosen Option 1.  According to what was discussed before, if the costs associated with your case were $1,500.00, you would see a reduction of $500.00 under Option 2.

In cases involving personal injuries in New York, how do costs get covered?

In most cases, the personal injury attorney who is managing the case will cover the costs associated with the proceeding. The investigation of the occurrence, the hiring of detectives and/or an engineer, the gathering of medical records, the filing of a lawsuit, the serving of the defendants, the payment of court filing costs, the taking of depositions, the creation of demonstrative evidence, and the preparation of the case for trial all require a financial investment.  When the matter is finally resolved, each of these costs is going to have to be reimbursed in full.  It is effectively a loan with no interest attached.

The typical costs associated with a personal injury lawsuit are quite variable and depend on the nature of the case as well as the extent to which it was pursued.  When compared to the costs associated with a complicated construction site accident case that has been fully litigated for four years, the costs associated with a straightforward auto accident case that was resolved in less than six months will, of course, be far lower.

Some Examples of Personal Injury Attorney Fees in New York

Client A was involved in a motor accident involving a rear-end collision.  She had a herniated disc in her neck as well as a torn meniscus in her knee as a result of the accident.  The insurance company did not consider her injuries to be serious in accordance with the laws of New York and made no offer of financial compensation.  Following the initiation of legal action against the vehicle’s owner and driver, the defendants were served with process, and the matter was pursued through the use of depositions.  After getting the matter to the point where it was almost ready to go to trial, a fair settlement offer was presented and accepted.  The costs associated with this scenario could be anywhere between one thousand and one and a half hundred dollars.

Client B was injured when they fell over a raised sidewalk in Manhattan, causing them to seek medical attention.  She suffered some kind of wrist injury and had to have open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery performed on it.  An engineer was sent in to examine the scene of the accident and provide an assessment of the hazardous walkway.  The building’s owner, the management business, the ground-floor tenant, and a contractor who had previously done work in that area were all named as defendants in the lawsuit.  After filing a lawsuit, serving it on the defendants, taking depositions of all of the parties involved, and then mediating the dispute to reach a settlement, the issue was finally resolved.  In this particular scenario, the costs could fall anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000.